4 out of 5 stars
After leaving a dicey marriage and losing a beloved job in a corporate crash, Pepper Reece has found a new zest for life running a busy spice and tea shop in Seattle’s Pike Place Market. Her aromatic creations are the talk of the town, and everyone stops by for a cup of her refreshing spice tea, even other shopkeepers and Market regulars. But when a panhandler named Doc shows up dead on the store’s doorstep, a Seattle Spice Shop cup in his hand, the local gossip gets too hot for Pepper to handle—especially after the police arrest one of Pepper’s staffers, Tory Finch, for murder.
Tory seems to know why she’s a suspect, but she refuses to do anything to curry favor with the cops. Convinced her reticent employee is innocent, Pepper takes it on herself to sniff out some clues. Only, if she’s not careful, Pepper’s nosy ways might make her next on the killer’s list…
Assault and Pepper by Leslie Budewitz is the first in the Spice Shop Mystery series. As far as a first book in a series, it rocks. The setting initially drew me to the book as I’d never read one set in a spice shop before.
While I felt that the mystery itself was a little weak and not particularly engaging, I enjoyed the book. I didn’t particularly care about the victim and I knew very early on who killed him, but that didn’t spoil the story for me like it sometimes does.
However, I found Pepper and her employees to be interesting and well-rounded characters. I’m looking forward to seeing how the author continues to develop the characters in this series. The setting is Pikes Place Market in Seattle as well as other parts of the city. I’ve never been to Seattle, but the author provided such vivid descriptions of various places that I feel like I *have* been there before. I believe that when I do visit someday, I’ll be able to recognize many of the places in the book without problem.
I’m looking forward to reading more in this series.